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Nonduality Salon (/ \)

Nonduality Evoked in These Poems of Tu Fu

Rexroth said: "Tu Fu (713-770) is, in my opinion, and in the opinion of a majority of those qualified to speak, the greatest non-epic, non dramatic poet who has survived in any language. ... For me his response to the human situation is the only kind of religion likely to outlast this century."

(Taken from One Hundred Poems From The Chinese, by Kenneth Rexroth, New Directions Books, 1971)


The windy forest is checkered

By the light of the setting,

Waning moon. I tune the lute,

Its strings are moist with dew.

The brook flows in the darkness

Below the flower path. The thatched

Roof is crowned with constellations.

As we write the candles burn short.

Our wits grow sharp as swords while

The wine goes round. When the poem

Contest is ended, someone

Sings a song of the South. And

I think of my little boat,

And long to be on my way.


Tumult, weeping, many new ghosts.

Heartbroken, aging, alone, I sing

To myself. Ragged mist settles

In the spreading dusk. Snow skurries

In the coiling wind. The wineglass

Is spilled. The bottle is empty.

The fire has gone out in the stove.

Everywhere men speak in whispers.

I brood on the uselessness of letters.


The Autumn constellations

Begin to rise. The brilliant

Moonlight shines on the crowds.

The moon toad swims in the river

And does not drown. The moon rabbit

Pounds the bitter herbs of the

Elixir of eternal life.

His drug only makes my heart

More bitter. The silver brilliance

Only makes my hair more white.

I know that the country is

Overrun with war. The moonlight

Means nothing to the soldiers

Camped in the western deserts.


The lives of many men are

Shorter than the years since we have

Seen each other. Aldebaran

And Antares move as we have.

And now, what night is this? We sit

Here together in the candle

Light. How much longer will our prime

Last? Our temples are already

Grey. I visit my old friends.

Half of them have become ghosts.

Fear and sorrow choke me and burn

My bowels. I never dreamed I would

Come this way, after twenty years,

A wayfarer to your parlor.

When we parted years ago,

You were unmarried. Now you have

A row of boys and girls, who smile

And ask me about my travels.

How have I reached this time and place?

Before I can come to the end

Of and endless tale, the children

Have brought out the wine. We go

Out in the night and cut young

Onions in the rainy darkness.

We eat them with hot, steaming,

Yellow millet. You say, "It is

Sad, meeting each other again."

We drink ten toasts rapidly from

The rhinoceros horn cups.

Ten cups, and still we are not drunk.

We still love each other as

We did when we were schoolboys.

Tomorrow morning mountain peaks

Will come between us, and with them

The endless, oblivious

Business of the world.


Autumn, cloud blades on the horizon.

The west wind blows from ten thousand miles.

Dawn, in the clear morning air,

Farmers busy after long rain.

The desert trees shed their few green leaves.

The mountain pears are tiny but ripe.

A Tartar flute plays by the city gate.

A single wild goose climbs into the void.


The sun sinks towards the horizon.

The light clouds are blown away.

A rainbow shines on the river.

The last raindrops spatter the rocks.

Cranes and herons soar in the sky.

Fat bears feed along the banks.

I wait here for the west wind

And enjoy the crescent moon

Shining through misty bamboos.


Isolate and full, the moon

Floats over the house by the river.

Into the night the cold water rushes away below the gate.

The bright gold spilled onto the river is never still.

The brilliance of my quilt is greater than precious silk.

The circle without blemish.

The empty mountains without sound.

The moon hangs in the vacant, wide constellations.

Pine cones drop in the old garden.

The senna trees bloom.

The same clear glory extends for ten thousand miles.


The city is silent,

Sound drains away,

Buildings vanish in the light of dawn,

Cold sunlight comes on the highest peak,

The thick dust of night

Clings to the hills,

The earth opens,

The river boats are vague,

The still sky --

The sound of falling leaves.

A huge doe comes to the garden gate,

Lost from the herd,

Seeking its fellows.

Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

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